A New Chapter In Childcare: Virtual Babysitting

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Time and tide wait for no man. Geoffrey Chaucer’s brutal yet realistic conclusion of time’s importance has been in force for eons now. Still, the COVID-19 pandemic has slightly yet temporarily altered the deep-lying meaning of this proverbial masterpiece. This pandemic has given time to its to working professionals to spend much needed time with their families, loved ones, and friends via the option of operating from home. This pandemic might have come with a silver lining of more time, but it also had a black cloud, especially for parents struggling to strike the correct balance between caring for their children and their jobs. Parents are left to care for and educate their kids at home while juggling work conference calls, leaving them exhausted, drained, and overwhelmed. But like many other innovative adjustments that we have done during these unprecedented times, this necessity of desiring balance between the personal and professional, coupled with the ongoing ‘online revolution,’ has given rise to an activity that helps parents keep their children engaged and focus on their jobs with ease, all from the convenience of the internet and a video-calling application. Enter the beautiful and much-needed concept of ‘Virtual Babysitting.’

Virtual babysitting is the newest trend in at-home child care and a responsible way of engaging kids keeping in mind the prevalent social distancing needs. Instead of the babysitter coming over physically to watch over the kids, they interact with children via video applications like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, wherein the babysitter logs into this video platform for a predetermined amount of time, and depending on the kids’ age, engages them in activities.

Some virtual babysitting ideas for younger children may include storytime, charades, dance party or competition, letter/color of the day, counting practice, practice reading aloud, telling jokes, etc. For slightly older children, activities may include learning and homework help, drawing and music lessons, Pictionary, yoga, meditation and exercise, origami, riddles, “20 Questions”, magic tricks, etc. Before zeroing down on any sitter, screening and vetting them is very important. Even though the sitter isn’t physically taking care of your kids, they will still spend time with your child. Hence, they should be vetted through virtual interviews and background checks. All planned activities that would take place should be discussed between you and your sitter. To have a productive virtual babysitting session, the child who is being babysat should be old enough to understand how video calls work, probably around five years old. The sessions should be crisp and short, unlike the in-person long ones for better efficiency, and can be split across various times in a day. A virtual baby sitter can also be shared across multiple families using video conference and save some money in the process. There are obvious advantages to hiring a virtual baby sitter; apart from being finally able to balance work and home, parents also get some time together as a couple with their children being engaged. They get some much-needed time to take care of chores around the house. Traditional babysitting only included taking care of children when parents were away; there were no planned developmental activities for their children. Via virtual babysitting, parents and the sitter can plan specific learning and developmental activities, which can boost the child’s smartness and intelligence from an early age. Unlike online school, this activity can be fun, and children can be motivated to learn. On the flip side, there are some glaring disadvantages as well; there is no one to stop your kid from wandering away from the screen. You still have to set up for and clean up after these sessions. Adult supervision is necessary for children with shorter attention spans and would anyways be required at the beginning of the sessions. The child can feel disconnected just after fifteen minutes into the session, and you would still have to pay up for an hour-long session. The virtual babysitter selection has to be spot on, and hence the procedure can be very tedious. An incorrect choice can harm your baby’s development and waste your time and resources. With all its pros and cons, this innovative child care process has given some relief to parents who have been in desperate search of attempting to care for careers and family at the same time. Many professionals have lost their livelihood in this pandemic. Parents can search for such professionals in childcare, such as pre-school teachers and primary school teachers, and give them the responsibility, which would act as a win-win situation for everyone. Many child care players in the market are now providing such babysitters, and this concept will be prevalent for some time and become increasingly popular by the day.

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